Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Development on the islands is a touchy subject. Since 97% of San Cristobal is protected by the National Park and Marine Reserve, ungodly amounts of permits, paperwork, and compliance must be adhered to. Or at least that's how it's set up... Currently there is a new building being built behind the university. Meaning, instead of the nice view of natural vegetation by my dorm door, there will soon be a brick wall. GAIAS (Galapagos Academic Institute for Arts and Sciences) has formed a partnership for graduate researchers from UNC Chapel Hill (BEAK 'EM HAWKS!!). Currently there is a team of graduate and undergraduate students, staying at a local hostal, conducting research about various topics of marine life. Word on the street is that the correct permits have yet to be obtained for the proposed new lab, the start of which is right outside my door. Men wear hats and t-shirts wrapped over their faces and heads to keep the dust and sun and sweat out. They use hand tools to chip away at and then remove large boulders in the red earth. A ladder consists of two wooden beams with some fishing ropes tied between, creating a "net" to climb. Sifters are used between two men or else one man and the other end tied to a tree, in order to mix cement on the spot, but larger operations, such as this new lab, Holcim cement mix is imported from the mainland. Holcim, of course, being one of the largest sponsors for the Barcelona soccer team from Quito. Everywhere you look on the island, small developments are occurring. Offices are getting new signs and doors to lure in the tourists. A new hotel is being built not far from my previous host family's home. They have set colored wine and beer bottles in the wet cement walls, adding some creativity to the current grey skeleton of the building. Lumber yards offer boards stacked up four stories and higher, looking like a Jenga game for giants. There is a local quarry, a sudden interruption from the beaches and opuntia cacti and homes built in stages, with additions like afterthoughts. It seems as if San Cristobal, like everywhere else in the world, is changing and evolving. And so is the life that is found here.